Knight with Cryptic Smile
Croft Monument, Croft Church, Herefordshire
Lank looks, jowls slack like a dog’s,
Sir Richard Croft made 80 then his heart gave out,
a man who came through wars
so barbarous the ground
was larded like a pork man’s pound
belly parts unpacked,
ears and noses sliced along the bone
to bag for souvenirs.
How can a man
return to sport and cider after times like these,
to managing his land
and wearing out his clothes,
the clash still in his ears of
maces swung like wrecking balls,
skull parts coming loose inside the flesh
and in his nostrils, sweat and smoke
and often times, the breeches-smell
of men who couldn’t hold their fear.
Did the old man tell his wife
the worst of it,
repeat old soldiers’ tales
to boys too young to know?
Or turn away,
suggest a game of bowls,
contrive a certain look
that’s something like a smile.